Thursday, June 13, 2019

New Outside Column! And Other Stuff Too!

Firstly, I've got a new Outside column, and it's all about how I've become one of those sniveling sidewalk cyclists:

Deal with it.

Secondly, I had an interesting final caller on my RADIO SHOW this past Monday, which made the digital pages of Gothamist:

Here's a more direct link to the show:
I'm still very much figuring this radio thing out, and I didn't respond at length to the caller because I thought I was out of time.  (My guest did however respond in a thoughtful and diplomatic manner.)  I suppose there's a certain type of person out there who gets off on making facile ethnic characterizations on a public forum (in fact one of them happens to be president), but even so I regret not pointing out to the caller that:

B. It's disturbing that, when a driver injures or kills a cyclist, this is the attitude of the person whose job it is to respond to the call and assess the situation.

Finally, when you're knee-deep in all this policy stuff it does start to weigh heavily on the soul, and so I do like to lose myself in the pure joy of bicycle cycling whenever possible.  One of my favorite tools for doing so is the Jones SWB Complete:

And I'm pleased to report that in the not-too-distant future I will be receiving another Jones bicycle, about which I am very, very excited, and about which I plan to type many words, and of which I plan to take many lousy photos.

I'm so excited I may even have to cut myself a new pair of jorts.


theEel said...


HDEB said...

Kids riding bicycles on sidewalks is a beautiful thing : )

Anonymous said...

Dear Jimmy the veteran constable,

Please consider the safety of those outside of caged vehicles and kindly remember the laws are there not to primarily protect the motoring public and their dog-given rights to do ANYTHING THEY PLEASE WITH COMPLETE SELFISH DISREGARD FOR EVERYTHING OUTSIDE IF THEIR MEATSACK, but to ensure safety for everyone.

Thank you for your consideration.

Adam said...

Any chance your radio show can get a podcast link? I looked here and other shows seem to: but not yours. Thanks

paulb said...

Rode a bit 'round Canarsie yesterday, Flatlands Ave & Ralph ave & Rockaway "Parkway" enroute to Riis Park and jeez they need bike lanes out there. Sidewalk? Hell yes.

Anonymous said...

I see so many online comments like "I wouldn't have a problem with cyclists except that they keep trying to switch back between acting like a car and acting like a pedestrian! They should pick one and stick with it".

But after living in various areas with good and with bad cycling infrastructure, what those people really mean is "I don't want cyclists to switch between car infrastructure and pedestrian infrastructure based on what they feel is safer or more convenient for them. I want them to switch between infrastructure based on which is more convenient for me [a motorist]". They're completely hypocritical - if you take the lane, they get pissed off at you ("You're not a car, get off the road") but if you ride the sidewalk, they also get pissed off. Basically if you exist, and your existing causes them a couple seconds delay, they hate you.

Busy road with no shoulder but it has a sidewalk? "Get off the road, Lance! You're holding up traffic"

Using a crosswalk to navigate a busy intersection that is challenging to navigate via bike? "You're a vehicle, act like one!"

I had a commute where I used to live. There was one route I could go where I had to ride down a narrow busy road with no shoulder, then make a left at a stop sign onto a busy road. It often took a minute or two for a large enough gap, and I experienced plenty of road rage.

So I started riding across a pedestrian bridge and a brief stretch of sidewalk (50 ft or so) to avoid it. Then once in awhile, someone would give me a snide comment about how I was supposed to ride on the road, even though sidewalk riding was legal [albeit discouraged] in the town I was living in.

Anonymous said...

So two concepts for you:
1) Opportunity Cyclist: I will ride wherever I find it safest and won't let paint, or concrete, think for me. I will not hesitate to use a drainage ditch, a gravel path, or a sidewalk (with consideration for pedestrians of course) to get me safely to my destination. Sometimes I'm in the street, sometimes a sidewalk, sometimes a surface you wouldn't even think a person would ride a bike upon to get from A-to-B. My major rule of not riding on a street is if I wouldn't even feel safe in my car on that road due to combinations of; -high traffic, -high speeds, -no sight lines, -lots of scofflaw motorists, etc
B) 8 to 80: We should have bicycling infrastructure, like the Dutch, that accommodates 8yr old kids to 80yr old seniors and everyone in between.

Chazu said...

"...when both my kids..."

Longtime readers know you're a prodigious breeder. I suppose you are downplaying the number of your progeny in order to be more "relatable" to the mainstream readers of Outside.

By the way, you are welcome to ride through my backyard anytime. Feel free to use the lead-free hose to wash your bike, refill your bottles, etc.

SmartAlex said...

"...I am very, very excited, and about which I plan to type many words, and of which I plan to take many lousy photos."

Any plans to ride the new bike?

Dirk Montero said...

Your article is particularly well-timed for me. Downtown Berkeley is seriously inhospitable to cyclists, and one of the few reasonable north-south streets actually has bike lanes for a few prominent blocks near the UC campus and then has a long traffic-calmed stretch leading south towards Oakland and more bike-friendly routes. Of course those two segments are separated by three one-way blocks (with a one-way protected bike lane!). So if I'm leaving my office and heading south, it's a straight shot along said street (Fulton for you locals), but on the way back, I have to resort to a seriously undesirable detour to stay legal. Last week, for the first time in a decade of using this route, I just said "fuck it" and rode on the sidewalk for the three one-way blocks. It sucked too, but less so. Shame on Berkeley for still not getting this right.

On people being forgiving about dads with kids riding on the sidewalk, I suspect that moms with kids are much more likely to be scolded or mommy-shamed, both in general and when biking.

And finally, how charming to read that a member of New York's finest actually thinks that recent immigrants, and in particular Asian immigrants: a) don't already know the meaning of red vs. green lights, and b) couldn't figure it out in 30 seconds of observing an intersection on their first day in the US, or on earth for that matter.

Wow, a few sips of coffee and a calling out sexism and racism on bike blogs. I better go do something productive. Like riding on the sidewalk.


Dirk Montero said...

I need to correct myself. From re-reading the transcript, the racist asshole cop called out Asian FOOD being delivered but just "third-world" immigrants. Don't want to mischaracterize someone else's prejudice.


1904 Cadardi said...

I totally agree with Tan and Anon@12:22

I will ride wherever I have to in order to not get killed. The sidewalk, your backyard, or even PBateman's mom.

Peter said...

In Japan, it's mostly OK to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but people are also very polite there, so cyclist usually walk their bikes when it's crowded and in less crowded areas, pedestrians usually step aside to let bikes past. (I've also seen police bicycling on the sidewalk.)

tobeistobex said...

If you get a TI spaceframe and truss fork to play around on I will dislike you intensely for a couple days which means I will have to buys sum Tums antacids.

I hope for you that is what you will be getting.

BoBandy said...

At first I thought I could understand where the cop was coming from... As an English teacher to foreign students I notice trends which come from cultural norms in other societies. But then I realised that they way he said it was pretty stupid and judgemental. Woods sound good, but its been raining solidly for a week now though, and no, I'm not cleaning and lubing my commuter after every ride. May god have mercy on my soul

BamaPhred said...

If you don’t like how I ride, get off the sidewalk.

George Krpan said...

Racism has been subverted into a form of political control.

huskerdont said...

I suspect Mr. Snob is not having many conflicts riding on the sidewalk partially because he is riding respectfully. There's a way to do it kindly and gently, and then there's the blow through with no consideration for others way.

I don't like riding on the sidewalk either, but it's a necessary evil in some cases. In DC, the problem is mostly the bridges over the rivers. There are simply few ways to cross the Potomac that don't involve using the sidewalk. (I'll occasionally take the lane on Key Bridge, but don't especially love getting buzzed by traffic going 30 mph over the posted speed limit with impunity.)

And for some reason, we won't do mode separation down here like they have on, say, the GW Bridge in NYC. I guess that would take effort.

Some guy from upstate said...

Like you, I am baffled by apologies from pedestrians when I take to the sidewalk (usually to avoid a left turn onto a busy road followed by a left turn from said busy road to a destination a half-block away, i.e. a melange of laziness and hazard avoidance). I am riding in the most cautious and deferential manner possible and someone who actually belongs there apologizes for being in the way. I usually say something like "no, it is I who should apologize" and I get a funny look.

But what really, really puzzles me is when bike infrastructure exists and someone rides on the sidewalk anyway. Just a couple days ago I was happily toodling down our lovely new (-ish, about 2 years old) Madison Avenue bike lanes (Albany Madison Avenue, not NYC Madison Avenue; there's no advertising agencies) that took 15 years of persistent agitation to get built, and there was a cyclist slightly ahead of me going in the same direction at about the same speed on the sidewalk. He then confidently rode out to the center lane to make a left turn, so he clearly wasn't a timid rider. He wasn't an outlier - I see this all the time. My only guess is that people have been so conditioned to ride on sidewalks out of self-preservation that they don't even recognize when they have options.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of the problem with the cyclists, and I know you don't wanna say it, but it's people from third world cultures where they do not have traffic lights..."

It took me a full day to figure out what bothered me about that one. It's not the obvious part, it's the "I know you don't wanna say it." Like his point is so obviously true, everybody already agrees with it.

The trouble with space aliens and Santa Claus, and I know you wouldn't want to come out and have it publicly known how strongly you agree with this, is that the aliens shoot fire-breathing dragons out of their asses while Santa shoots unicorns, and the unicorns and dragons don't like each other. Hey man listen it's not a stereotype if it's true.

pbateman uses Campy scissors said...

Does the Misses Snob allow you to use the GOOD scissors for your Jorting? or you left using the ones in the bike tool box with rust on them?

Banana said...

I like your radio show by the way. That last caller was a piece of work! I am also wondering if your current Jones is 650B. I am so jealous you are getting a new one!

JLRB said...

"Safe pedestrian space is a precious commodity in a city and country subsumed by automobiles and to violate that space, even with a velocipede, is to rob people of their most vital refuge."

Very true. And until the scooter companies figure out a way to keep their users from leaving the scooters all over that precious commodity, fuck them.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Cities could create more off-the-sidewalk space for scooters by reclaiming some space from cars. Also, unlike a car, a scooter is about as difficult to move out of the public right-of-way as a stroller or shopping cart.

--Tan Tenovo

JLRB said...

Tan - Right - Cities could and should make room for them. But they haven't, and the scooter companies that appear to make more value off the riders' data then renting the scooters (at a loss) do nothing to even suggest that users be responsible about returning the scooters to a place where they do not cause problems for others. They promote the "just finish your ride and click end" convenience.

I disagree with how easy it is to move scooters out of the way, but even if they were as easy to move as strollers or shopping carts, that does not excuse them being left in the way of others. I don't want to have to move shopping carts or strollers out of sidewalks and bikepaths, either.

While it seems that, like coal generation, economics will kill e-scooters, if they do survive economically - the scooter companies must develop a means to prevent them from being discarded where they can injure others.

BikeSnobNYC said...


At least one of the companies (Bird, maybe?) makes you upload a photo of where you parked the scooter when you end your trip.

Which automotive companies take any steps to make sure you store your car properly?

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said... the way, the scooter companies also go around and move/redistribute/tidy up the scooters. Which car companies do that?

Anonymous said...

A cop from the suburbs calling into a radio show to bellow old chestnuts? It's not a stereotype if it's the truth.

JLRB said...

Snob -

The rental car companies sure as hell make sure the rented cars are returned to either the rental site (Hertz etc) or a designated legal parking spot (zip car, etc). Leave a rental car in the middle of a bike path/sidewalk and your credit card bill will never be the same.

I get that scooters are an asset from the TransAlt point of view, but there are serious flaws in the business model, and they are creating significant risks to others.

BikeSnobNYC said...


No, Hertz is doing nothing to make sure I don't park my rental car on the sidewalk. Local law enforcement is; they're the ones who will ticket the car. Yes, eventually I'll be responsible for the ticket as per my rental agreement, and yes they'll slap on a bunch of charges like they do for tolls, etc., but in practice they're not monitoring my behavior at all.

With regard to car share, there will be requirement that you return the car to the service area, but that same requirement exists with dockless bikes and scooters, which have no-ride zones. And if someone decides to, say leave their Zipcar in the crosswalk while they run into the store (which I've seen), enforcement only happens if a cop sees it--and similarly, if a scooter user is violating the law by obstructing the sidewalk, crosswalk, etc. and a cop happens to see it, presumably they'll be ticketed too.

Seems to me that, if anything, bike share and scooter companies are policing user behavior more aggressively than rental car companies, especially when you adjust for the size, power, and risks posed by the vehicle.

--Tan Tenovo

JLRB said...

Snob -

Probably splitting hairs, but my focus is on leaving the rented vehicle or scooter in the wrong place at the end of a ride. If you abandon your hertz kia-whatever in the middle of a sidewalk/bikeway you would be violating the rental agreement by not returning it to them. No such rule applies with the "click end" and be done scooter rentals.

I'll stop polluting your blog-sphere on this point. It's very personal to me at the moment.

Peace, love and safe riding.